First day on the job

My first day at the new job started at about 3:30 am.

I had slept for a solid three or four hours, but once awake, I kept tossing and turning. My body was not cooperating. My mind was not cooperating. Usually I can distract myself by thinking of something fun or positive. It relaxes me and I fall back to sleep. My sleeping patterns were different. I could not think of anything, except that I needed to get up in a couple of hours to start chemotherapy treatments.

After a pit stop at the bathroom, I tiptoed past the door to the living room into the kitchen for a glass of water and some Tylenol. Grandpa Bucky, our aging canine love child, slept curled up on the living room floor. I didn’t want to wake him. He would want to go out, and then we would risk a middle of the night confrontation with one of the many woodland creatures who routinely patrol our back yard. As a young Buck, he tried to get friendly with a skunk who had meandered through our side yard. The liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide spa treatments we gave him in the middle of the night only deodorized him. Don and I smelled so bad we were both sent home from work the next day. But I digress.

I filled a glass with water and grabbed the Tylenol I had left out. Stuck on the front of a bag of granola on the kitchen counter were two notes from my daughter. “Good luck today! Love you. – Mary,” the sticky note read. It was stuck to the bag with a longer handwritten letter, which began:

“Dear Mom, I’m not sure this will hurt things or help, but every time I’ve had something big happening in my life, you always have a letter of some sort that makes me feel better. So this is mine for you. Today is a scary day for you, but it’s also a scary day for your cancer. Today is the day you officially start your fight.” Her letter continued with words and sentiments that filled me up.

The alarm going off at 5:30 am was still too early, but I was ready for the first day of chemo. We were the third arrival and had our pick between chair #21 or chair #22. The #22 chair and area didn’t seem to have the right feng shui, so I made a beeline for the light filled area to the left. Don reminded me, “12 is your lucky number. Close enough, right?” Things were stacking up in my favor.

My biggest fear was that I would have a bad reaction to one of the chemo drugs. That did not happen. Haley, my nurse today, did a thorough job explaining the process and how she would infuse the four different drugs, plus the premeds, which included saline and anti nausea medications. She told me what was normal and not normal, and made sure I felt comfortable telling her what didn’t feel right. Some of the other nurses touched base as well. The protocol requires that a second person check each step. It worked well in introducing me to many of the staff members. I have a confidence level they will be able to handle any scenario.

I felt a little woozy towards the end of the morning. Not sick to my stomach, but my equilibrium seemed off. I asked Haley about the nausea. “Should I expect at some point I’ll be vomiting?” She shrugged and told me the symptoms for each person are unique. “You might, but you might not.” I’m trying to be realistic, but I’ll take “not” if it’s available.

Stay tuned.

36 thoughts on “First day on the job

  1. Beautifully written, Linda. Thank you for being bold and sharing your journey. I don’t think you digressed at all; I think you’re doing what good writers and instinctive storytellers do — adding to the roundness of a full life (it is not just you and the cancer but you and Bucky, you and your daughter, you and your husband, you and your MFA cheering squad…. Plus you are telling a story that WILL help others, I believe and show us the gumption it takes to fight this AND write this. You have inspired me.
    Also — the letter from your daughter?? This is beautiful — it’s what you taught her through your own expressions. What a gift — for both of you. Hugs and YOU GO BADASS WOMAN of your own


    1. Thanks Naomi. The blog really gave me a focus during all of the ups and downs of the various tests. It was scary to put it live – will it ever be good enough? – but I can see now, it was the right thing to do. Thanks for your feedback.


  2. Well, I guess you and I had similar training – After I read each of your writings, I feel it would be too presumptuous of me to reply. I don’t know anything about it.

    Except this…You are one strong, brave, courageous woman.

    I’m here, and I’m reading.


  3. Linda, thank you for sharing. You made me laugh and cry at the same time. Love Mary’s note. She is just like her mom, loving and thoughtful. You got this! xo


  4. Dear Linda,
    I am in love with Grandpa Bucky and this entire shitty narrative. I am stunned by your fortitude and mettle and feel a bit self-loathey (made that word up) staring at my pale, brittle Christmas tree. Your writing is good. Who knew cancer was so creative? Message me when you can’t sleep. I’m always up. xoxox
    Nancy Goodhue


  5. Hi Linda, I think it’s great that you started a blog. I really give you a lot of credit for this. At the very least, it can help others to know some of the things to look out for. I admire your caring heart and you have always been a good friend. I wish you the best in your fight, you’ve got this!! You’re a runner and runners never give up! Love you dearly my friend, best wishes and stay strong. Ash


  6. We’re with you on this journey. Sending love. You’re strong and will kick this thing. Wish we could do it for you.


  7. Hi Linda, Thanks for sharing your journey. You’re an inspiration. I met you a couple years ago at running club. Your writing is wonderful. I am sending good energy your way.
    Pat Webber


  8. are a beautiful and strong woman who will be able to handle each day as it comes. I’m glad you got number 12 …The nurses over there are the best ..they will help you through this. I care and I’m reading. ..Ginny


  9. I have always loved Mary (as well as Donald, Don & you!) and am so grateful that she wrote to you. That was a wonderful, loving act.


  10. Linda,
    My heart sank when I didn’t see your name on our class list this semester. I am happy you are writing this blog, although I with the circumstances were different.
    I am rooting for you,


    1. Thanks Stephanie. I am disappointed to not be with the group this semester, but my focus has to be on getting healthy. Fortunately, with this blog, I’m able to focus on the writing in a way that’s workable. I wish you the best this semester.


  11. Linda,
    I have read all of your blog entries this afternoon. You amaze me with your strength, your humor, your humility and your willingness to share such intimate details of your journey. It will surely benefit anyone else going through this. I am so awed by your writing style. I keep thinking back to sitting next to you at the writing class at Kripalu. Who could have known? You definitely have become an awesome writer. ❤️❤️


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